TVD 4.21 & 4.23: What Black Female Character Has A Friend Like Bonnie Bennett?

I was just recording the podcast for She’s Come Undone and Graduation when I unexpectedly quit on myself. I got 30 minutes in, I was talking about Bonnie, and I just couldn’t continue. I had no desire to keep talking for another hour and 30 minutes about this fruitless show and it’s sad characters.

So I’m doing a written review instead! To keep this from getting super duper long, I’m going to break it up in parts, and the parts will be of varying lengths. This section will be about Bonnie. The next section will be about Rebekah (yes Rebekah), the third will be about Silas (and Caroline), and the fourth will be about Elena.

What Black Female Character Has A Friend Like Bonnie Bennett?

TV or movies, your choice, but I’d like answers dealing with interracial female friendships, specifically dealing with the Black/White dichotomy since there are so many White female characters with Black best friends.

The only example I can think of, in my tv-watching history, where a White female character was as involved in her Black best friend’s life (love, family, feelings, etc) as the latter was in hers is Topanga Lawrence and Angela Moore from Boy Meets World. They were just right, just normal friends.

I imagine Julie Plec was watching Gone With the Wind on a loop as she wrote the last two episodes of the season, because the writing for Bonnie was the most offensive it’s ever been. Ever! I’m so offended! If you didn’t read my review-rant of episode 22, then check it out here.

My hatred of Bonnie has simmered down to a dislike. The negative feelings are still there. I do love her, but I don’t accept just anything when it comes to Bonnie. I don’t believe that a character can fit into any situation. I believe any situation can fit a character, but not the reverse. Because at their core, a character has to be unmovable. There has to be something that makes them stand out, that makes them who they are, that makes me like/love/stan them.

Any situation can fit/happen to a character:

  • Sure, Silas can tell Bonnie that she needs to sacrifice 12 witches
  • Sure, Bonnie can consider using Expression, Dark Magic, and Spirit magic to bring Jeremy back

Those situations can happen to Bonnie, but how Bonnie responds to them should come from her core, that thing in her that is unmovable. So no, despite the idea occurring to her, it shouldn’t be a given that Bonnie will use all three magics to bring Jeremy back. She shouldn’t just say yes to sacrificing 12 witches.

But that’s how Julie Plec writes. Julie Plec writes all of these characters like they fit into any situation. She doesn’t mold the situation to them; she molds them to the situation: so we get Caroline entertaining Klaus, we get Bonnie sticking around for the Bonnie/Elena friendship, we get Bonnie’s fear about using too much Expression disappearing which leads to her death; we get Rebekah continuing to bother Matt no matter how many times he shuts her down, we get Elena being okay with the Salvatores torturing her (I’ll elaborate in my section about Elena), etc, etc, etc.

My dislike of Bonnie comes from the fact that I don’t accept everything when it comes to her. I don’t accept her doing/thinking/valuing anything. So yes, I would still include her in a list of my top 3 (yes Bonnie would be in a top 3) favorite female characters, but only for Bonnie would there be a huge caveat. Only in Bonnie’s case would I feel the need to explain why I like her, and those reasons would consist of what she could’ve been and what she was at her beginning, because the fact of the matter is (and you know this if you’ve listened to the podcasts), I reject a lot of canon Bonnie’s facets, and this has been the case since season 3, episode 15 when Stefan Salvatore was threatening her life and she did nothing.

The Bonnie character is offensive. I’ve decided this after the last two episodes. Episodes 22 and 23 has her displaying the worst of the Mammy/Black Best friend trope. Bonnie is dead, but she wants no one alerted to this fact because her friends are finally happy. And she only focuses on her friends! She’s not written to care about her father finding out. She doesn’t mention the man who is hers and hers alone, the one she doesn’t share with her friends in any way, the one non-White relationship she has: Rudy. She has no words for him, doesn’t seem to care what he’ll think when she doesn’t come home by day’s end. With her last words, so to speak, Bonnie makes sure her White friends will be okay: she tells Jeremy to give them a lie that will appease them.

The Mammy/Black Best Friend trope is all about a one-sided relationship where the Black (female) character acts like the relationship is two-sided. Bonnie doesn’t want to ruin her friend’s happiness, so she ensures that they won’t notice she’s gone. Bonnie’s a SUPER friend to her friends while her friends are either regular friends to her (Caroline and Matt) or they fail as friends entirely (Elena). Bonnie is thinking up lies in order to not rock her friends’ boats while:

  • Matt is going to spend the summer traveling the world with Rebekah. How much thought will he be sparing for Bonnie?
  • Elena got to spend her graduation day with a guardian she loves in Ric (why?) and her brother, plus her brother’s just come back to life. Plus she’s defeated Katherine, and she’s gotten to a stable place with Damon.
  • Caroline’s just received a great graduation present in the form of Tyler being allowed to come back to town, plus she got her wish of all of her friend being together for graduation, AND graduation went off without a hitch (thanks to Bonnie leaving halfway through the ceremony, something that no one was shown to notice).

What do those three things have in common? Or would it be better for me to ask what those three people are missing?

Matt, Elena, and Caroline got one or several “Happy” moments in the episode and none of it had anything to do with Bonnie. Matt, Elena, and Caroline’s happiness isn’t rooted in Bonnie herself being happy! Bonnie’s sad, crying, depressed, hurt? Doesn’t impede Matt, Elena, or Caroline being happy. Sure in theory they’ll be sad if Bonnie’s sad, but their world doesn’t stop.

But Bonnie’s world stop. In this case, Bonnie’s world ends. Bonnie’s happy moment in the episode was realizing that her spell worked and Jeremy’s alive. It’s tainted because in episode 22, she articulated that she wanted Jeremy back because, “Elena needs him.” Bonnie’s world ends to make Elena happy, and not only that, but no one gets to find out that Bonnie’s world has ended, because Bonnie’s happiness is rooted in her friends’ happiness. “For the first time in forever” her friends are happy. It’s like she’s been keeping track. How many of them have been written to keep track of her happiness? Matt’s about to leave town! He sure isn’t chained to Bonnie like Bonnie’s chained herself to them.

And Bonnie’s only non-White relationship on the show, the one with her dad, and it’s a relationship that only got introduced this season, and they’ve done nothing further than introduce it (no development, no exploration of their conflicts that were articulated by Bonnie all the way back in season 2, nothing), her one non-white relationship gets absolutely no mention in her final scene and her other, almost non-existent, non-white relationship (the one with Abby) is only mentioned as part of a lie, a minor detail in the greater scope that is her White friends’ happiness.

The Bonnie character is one of a kind on TVD. Fandom says Caroline is the best “friend” on the show, as in she’s the one who best knows how to be a friend. Well Bonnie is the Super Friend. She’s the only Super Friend, the only one who literally doesn’t mind her friends not mourning her loss because it means they can float in a bubble of happiness.

None of this is acceptable to me, and it’s why I hated and now dislike her. There is nothing inspiring or rootable about a Mammy. There’s nothing cool about it, nothing badass, nothing interesting. There’s nothing good about a Black character who doesn’t care about themselves or their happiness when I’m surrounded by White characters (often in the same damn show, as is the case on TVD) who do care about their own and look after themselves, etc. It’s depressing, and it’s fucking sad, and, in the case of this character that I really love, it fucking hurts.

Yes, it’s the writing, but I don’t have the ability to separate the two. I can’t look at the character in-canon when things are going well and then eject myself as soon as things turn problematic and only look at the writing. Can’t do it. Julie Plec messes up; that means Bonnie is messed up.

And speaking of things that happened in canon: The plan to drop the veil is the first bad plan Bonnie’s had in the series. So many things were up in the air! It wasn’t air-tight at all. First of all, since Bonnie hasn’t interacted with Katherine since season 2, I have no idea how she could be sure what Katherine wanted, let alone that she could give it to her. So it wasn’t certain that she’d get that headstone. But what was worse was:

Qetsiyah. Her plan hung on Qetsiyah showing up, and guess what? Qetsiyah didn’t show up! Why did she think Qetsiyah would show up? Why didn’t she attempt to talk to the woman at least one day before she played out her plan so that she would be sure Qetsiyah was on board? I know she heard Shane say that Qestiyah wanted the satisfaction of Silas offering himself to her, i.e. killing himself. Why did Bonnie think this had changed? Why did she think Qetsiyah perceived Silas to be a problem the way she did?

It was a bad plan, and I expected better from Bonnie. She’s done better. Story of her damn life.

And every time Julie fucks up wrt Bonnie, one or two days after the episode I start thinking about how the real Bonnie would respond, how the real Bonnie would’ve done things. This time? I haven’t done it. I can’t fix a Bonnie that’s dead. I can’t fix a Bonnie that is this dedicated to Elena/her friends; who is this bereft of something as simple as self-preservation. There’s no way to make this situation palatable. Instead I go back to where it all started to fall apart for me writing-wise (this season), and that’s episode 14 where they killed Jeremy. That storyline did nothing for Bonnie. It also did nothing for Jeremy. JP said in one of her post-finale interviews that they only did it to make Elena switch her emotions off. It’s a storyline that shouldn’t have happened.

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